Canada Post goes wireless for marketers

Canada Post is no longer just delivering your mail. Its new wireless technology is delivering customers directly to the inboxes of marketers.

At the Canadian Marketing Association's national conference in Toronto in mid-May, delegates roamed the show looking for better ways to flog their wares. Oddly enough, the largest crowd was at Canada Post's stand, attracted by the corporation's newest service, Fetch. The venture uses wireless technology to directly connect marketers with individual consumers, while protecting shoppers' privacy. It's a powerful combination: the hottest trends in marketing–permission-based and technology-driven–and the trusted Canada Post brand.

So, how does Fetch work? First, advertisers decide on a special offer, available only to those who use the system. Meanwhile, Canada Post convinces consumers to register their contact information on the Fetch website. When the consumer sees or hears a “Fetch-enabled” ad, they call, text or e-mail the site, noting a keyword from the ad. The service sends the consumer the offer–usually an electronic discount coupon or a sample product–while keeping the recipient's contact info a secret. Advertisers pay only when somebody “fetches” their product.

Fourteen businesses signed up for Fetch's 10-week pilot in Calgary earlier this year, including Safeway, Citi Financial and Universal Music. Tim Morris, marketing and promotion manager for Universal Music in the mid-west, was happy with the results–nearly 6,000 fetches for a contest to win a trip to a U2 concert. “The consumer comes to the company requesting information on products,” says Morris. “That is [almost] 100% qualified consumer interest.”

With Parliament's mandated review of federal privacy legislation set for early 2006, businesses are looking for ways to connect with consumers without impinging on personal space. Amazingly enough, consumers appear willing to invite more promotions into their lives–provided they trust the promoter, in this case Canada Post. During the pilot, nearly 10,000 Calgarians fetched, more than five times the number of individuals Fetch's executive director Scott Nowlan expected. Nowlan is now gearing up for a January 2006 launch across Canada.